The biography of suicide

I am moving slowly along through Ian Thomson’s detailed and fair biography of Primo Levi. I am in no particular hurry, enjoying the book’s five hundred pages for their contents, but also aware already of what happens at the end. There are few spoilers in the biographies of those we already know.

Mister Levi serves well as the author, when asked, I name as my favorite. He appears to be a scrupulous writer.

The bookend (forgive me) to Mister Levi (in terms of naming another I am fond of), David Foster Wallace, is a different kettle of confusion altogether, but still. But still, we don’t know what the man from Turin would have made of the man from Illinois. Whether he would have liked him much or understood his leanings. But we must believe Mister Foster Wallace would have recognized the essential nature of Mister Levi and that is (probably) what we should judge the most, if at all.

They both had had enough at their own ends. Differently, but the same.

The pity for Levi is that his death is mauled over. Uncertain. Did he jump or fall? Push himself or tumble?

It takes a long time for a man to outlive his death.

 

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